Genre Grandeur – My Way (2011)


Here’s a review of My Way (2011) by Eddie of Sidekickreviews for this month’s Genre Grandeur War.

Check out his site for some great tv and movie analyses.

Tomorrow is the deadline for anyone who still wants to send me their reviews, so you have some time left.  Just send me the review to war@movierob.net
Next month’s genre is space movies, so send me your reviews by 25th of September.  Thanks again to Tom of Digital Shortbread for choosing the next genre.

Let’s see what Eddie thought of My Way (2011)

1

My Way (2011)

Number Of Times Seen: 1 (Aug 23, 2014)
Director: Kang Je-gyu
Starring: Jang Dong-Gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way is a hard-hitting, action packed South Korean war film with an inspiring, hopeful message.  Based on actual events, the movie’s opening text provides the background and historical context:

An Asian man wearing a German uniform was discovered by the U.S. military at Normandy on D-Day. Upon questioning, he was later identified as a Korean.

Korea was under Japanese occupation during World War II and many Koreans were forced into the Japanese army and sent to the frontlines against China and the Soviet Union.

The story is epic in every sense of the word. If it wasn’t inspired by actual events it would be too far-fetched to be believable. My Way is about the rivalry and unlikely friendship between two marathon runners: a Korean man named Kim Jun-shik and a Japanese man named Hasegawa Tatsuo, who becomes a colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army. Their incredible journey spans several military battles across the globe and fighting in a number of different armies. At the heart of the story is an aspirational message of putting aside grievous differences and learning to value one another. Considering the complicated history between Japanese-Korean relations, the message is particularly powerful.

Three different actors play each of the two lead characters as children, teenagers and adults. Jang Dong-Gun plays a grown up Jun-shik. Jun-shik’s values are constantly tested. He’s the moral compass of the movie while many of his comrades lose their humanity due to the hardships of war. Tatsuo played by Joe Odagiri has a more dynamic character arc. From a traumatic childhood event, we understand Tatsuo’s anger and his singled minded determination. It’s a classic story of how an otherwise good-hearted person can do horrific things in a time of war. Actors Jang Dong-Gun and Joe Odagiri get the job done, though neither performances stand out above the other.

2It’s a delicate balance to interweave the different tones of the movie. A lot of the time, My Way is visceral and darkly despairing. By the end, it manages to be sweetly hopeful with a strong sense of humanity despite all the bloodshed. My Way also captures the brutality of war both graphically and violently. Even having watched Saving Private Ryan and other realistic war movies, it’s still pretty shocking to see all those young lives get wiped out in an instance.

In terms of the visuals and action set pieces, My Way is on par with many Hollywood blockbusters. The CGI is consistently clean and polished.  My Way doesn’t skimp on fist fights, fiery explosions or bone crushing battle tanks either. There’s more than enough action here to keep most movie buffs thoroughly entertained.

Directed by Kang Je-gyu, My Way offers a unique point of view narrative, particularly for those who have primarily watched American-centric war movies.  A harrowing war film about racism, redemption, rivalry and ultimately friendship, My Way is worth a look on Netflix.

9 thoughts on “Genre Grandeur – My Way (2011)

  1. Great stuff Eddie! Sounds like something I ought to invest some time into.

    Hey Rob, I was just curious, and I haven’t looked very far back into your posts yet, but I was wondering if you got my entry for this month’s war genre? I sent you Zero Dark Thirty I believe. Again, I haven’t gone back and checked your archives so it may be there, but just wanted u to know I sent it. However, I don’t think I sent it to war@movierob.net. I may have sent it to your normal email. I’ll double-check

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  2. crikey, sounds great. what a weird story: how on earth did a Korean press-ganged into the Japanese army end up in bloody Normandy? Will definitely have to check this out. I would be very curious to know how this was received in Korea and Japan … I lived in Korea many years ago, and later in Japan, and there was no love lost between them, particularly from the Korean side, as they were so badly treated (and still are in Japan; Korean-Japanese people are 2nd class citizens in Japan). I think things have changed a little, but when I was in Korea you could not buy anything made in Japan at all, from cars to comic books, they were all banned, and even if you could, nobody would as the shame would be too great and probably your neighbours would vandalise the car anyway.

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    • Hey Niall! The story sounds unbelievable, it’s kind of astonishing the general story is loosely based on what happened to a real person. I would also be very interested to find out how this was received in Korean and Japan. Wow, that’s news to me about how things are/were over there. I’ve briefly read/skimmed some stuff about what happened during the war and its tough to just read about it. Thanks for checking out the write up and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The root of the animosity goes back to the early 1900s; Japan occupied Korea and treated them very badly, and during WW2 Korean women were forced to be ‘comfort girls’ for Japanese soldiers. But it gets more complicated: the Japanese army used Koreans as guards for many of their POW camps; Aussies and Kiwis and Brits who were POWs in Burma and Japan always said that the Korean guards were generally far more vicious than the Japanese.

        The most bizarre story i can remember from when i was living there concerns a japanese manga; thjey were available in korea (translated into korean), but they were basically sort of bootlegs/underground things: anyway, a lot of high school kids used to read them surreptitiously – a friend of mine who was also a teacher told us a story about one of his students. The kid was caught by one of his high school teachers reading a manga; the teacher made him cut his arm and write in his own blood ‘i will not read japanese comics’ … In any event, I will definitely be checking out “My Way” (terrible title, by the way). cheers, niall

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  3. Pingback: Genre Grandeur August Finale – Where Eagles Dare (1968) |

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